On 21/01/1991, a bank employee transfers an amount of 488.624 Belgian francs from one account to another. The request to transfer this amount is not done with the standardised form, but by letter. The account holder had sent similar letters in the past, requesting money transfers.
The signature on the last letter is a perfect imitation of that in previous letters, but the last letter contains several spelling errors and is drafted in poor French, unlike the previous letters.
The account holder denies that he has written the letter requesting the money transfer. A criminal investigation confirms this claim. The account holder claims that the bank committed a contractual error by transferring the money without being ordered by him to do so. He initiates proceedings against the bank to reclaim his money and in any case wants to be compensated also for additional damages resulting from the transfer.
The general conditions of the bank, which are incorporated in the contract between the bank and the account holder, contain the following clauses:
1) On the subject of the verification of the signature, the bank is only liable if it commits a grave error.
2) The account holder bears full responsibility for the consequences resulting from the use of incomplete, incorrect or unauthentic documents for which the bank, when the documents are drafted in a foreign country, does not assume liability concerning their authenticity, validity, translation or interpretation.
On the basis of these clauses, the bank argues that it is not liable for the faulty money transfer.